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Test Drive: BMW 420i Cabriolet: Endangered Fun


In the automotive industry, today’s truths might be different tomorrow. After advocating articulated hardtop for years, BMW is now going backwards and use a good old canvas top on its new 4 Series Convertible. Always nice to rediscover a classic while enjoying a nice sunny Fall season.

The 420i Cabriolet interior is obviously a carbon copy of the 4 Series Coupe’s (and its divisive grille!) that was launched back in 2020. The digital gauges can display a reassuringly classic face but will vary according to the selected driving mode. A 10″25 touchscreen that can also be operated via the traditional iDrive button sits in the middle of the dashboard. Once inside, you will be perfectly seated in adequately supportive seats. Both the coupe and convertible versions benefit from motorised belt guides that literally bring them to the front seat passengers.

I like it

Testing a convertible in late September might not be such a bad idea at all. To start with it was sunnier than, say, in mid-July and very often the last Summer days are quite nice. The soft top taking just 18 seconds to get down or up while driving under 50 km/h, the slightest ray of light among the clouds was therefore a perfect reason to drive with the roof down.  Enjoying the road in this way is always enchanting and can even help some disabled people to understand better what a car’s charming side is made of. As mentioned earlier on, the driving position is perfect and all the controls are right where you expect them.

Quite clever

Even when the top is down, soundproofing is as good as it was before, when BMW used folding hard tops. This contributes to the general comfort of the car, which is quite remarkable, and to the feeling of getting value for money… even if you pay too much for your BMW. We think that whatever its power figures are, a petrol engine is the obvious choice for a convertible. BMW still offers Diesel engines in its convertible range and that’s a real heresy in our opinion…

I don’t like it

With such a good chassis and suspension, we quickly lamented the 420i’s relative lack of power. Of course, cruising under the sun doesn’t necessarily require an impressive amount of power. However, this small 4-cylinder 2.0 l engine is not lively enough and it is too lazy when you want to take curves with verve. Thank the emissions control equipment for that. We’ve seen more characterful BMW engines in the past. We love manual gearboxes and regret the the 8-speed automatic gearbox is the default choice.

Why I buy it

In this day and age, driving around in a convertible is almost an act of rebellion against all those SUVs that clog the roads. However, we are still convinced that enjoying the road while being restrained on the loud pedal, with wind the air and nice smells flattering your nose is still one of the simplest and best motoring pleasures. If this 4 Series convertible’s outside design continues to be divisive among the brand’s fanatics, the interior is close to being perfect and widely acclaimed. It achieves a flawless performance with perfectly designed seats, high quality materials, fit and finish.  On the plus side, the screens are less intrusive than those of its competitors. The comfort is perfect and the chassis allows an enthusiastic driver to have fun behind the wheel. The engine lacks power but average fuel consumption is reasonable (8.1 l/100 km), despite the car weighing 1,765 kg.

Why I don’t buy it

Starting at €54,450 without extras, enjoying the 420i Cabriolet requires quite a lot of money for the privilege. However, BMW’s Belgium excellent sales figures show that customers are not really bothered. The trade offs will be a lack of engine power, reduced boot space (385 l with a tricky access) and the steering is not really communicative as you’d expect it from BMW. This critic comes up with every single test drive of a new BMW but the brand engineers don’t seem to take notice. The windscreen is very useful and available as an extra (370€). As usual, it is fragile. A missing piece of rubber drove the on-board computer crazy : it was constantly displaying a message indicating it was not properly secured… (Translation: Dimitri Urbain)

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